Dakota Diners: Auntie Mimi's 'farm to table' program works to boost local ag economy

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In tonight's edition of Dakota Diners we are hitting the road to the small Spink County community of Tulare to visit Auntie Mimi's Farmhouse Kitchen.

The restaurant is known for great food and for a unique business model they call "farm to table".

Tulare is a town that depends heavily on the farm economy.
Where train traffic can still slow down car traffic a couple of times a day.
And a place where...right on Main Street....people gather to trade the important news of the day.

"Who's the new grandma? Who's graduating? Who's getting married?" Six months ago, Marie Kimlicka decided she was going to take a bit of a chance. "The number one reason why I decided to do this here is the fact that the agriculture economy is kind of sketchy right now."

Marie and her husband Kurt Van Vleet are third generation farmers which means they know both the ups and the downs of that ag economy.
And lately, it's been on the down side. "We were looking for ways to diversify and this café needed a new manager."

Taking charge of a restaurant is no small task.
But being the boss means you can try new things.
Marie had been buying her meat from a retailer and while it was a good product, Marie had a thought that changed how this small eatery in Tulare did its business. "I said wait a minute, we can do better."

Marie wondered if there was something she could do with this business that would not only provide her with quality meat but also put some dollars back into the pockets of local livestock producers in and near Tulare.
So she decided she was going to go into business with them; she would buy the meat she needed....locally. "That's what makes us unique because we do. All of the Beef and Pork and Lamb that's served in this café is born and raised within a 10 mile radius of Tulare."

It's a concept they call "farm to table". It's made Auntie Mimi's even more of a local favorite because this business doesn't just want to be a success itself...it wants the entire community to be a success. If the farm economy is doing better people feel better and right now in Tulare, people feel better because of Auntie Mimi's.

"Never underestimate the value of community support. It's just unreal."

Marie Kimlicka knows she's fortunate and does not take any of it for granted. "It comes from good people living in a really nice community and being passionate about the way we all live."